2 Answers

  1. Yes, of course, the size of gray matter affects mental abilities. If it hadn't been for its developmental delays, we'd still be stuck with primate brains, with the same level of awareness, knowledge, and creationism. But our brain is much larger, with about 86 billion neurons. Their connection creates huge opportunities for a person. The cat's brain has only 250 million neurons, which is only 0.29% of the human brain.

  2. To begin with, the question is not entirely correct, although the essence is clearer than clear. It is clear that for the average person who is not particularly familiar with biology, the phrase “gray matter” is very popular, has a certain magical meaning – it is some special matter in the brain that is responsible for intelligence. In practice, everything is somewhat different, more prosaic, and disproportionately more complex. Whether it's your brain or a cat's, it's made up of nerve cells and neuroglia, which is generally considered auxiliary, although this is a somewhat simplified vision. So, a nerve cell consists of a body (soma) and processes (axons, dendrites).�

    The size of the neuron body is small, but the processes are very long, sometimes their length can be measured even in meters, if they stretch through the entire body! Processes can be covered with a myelin sheath, which is actually a special type of cell containing a larger number of lipids. The myelin sheath does not cover the entire process, there are small “bare” areas – Ranvier's intercepts. This structure allows the signal to pass faster, it propagates in a jump-like way along these Ranvier intercepts. The set of processes of nerve cells we call nerves.

    So, the basics of the structure of the nerve cell were sorted out. Now let's get to the point: gray matter is a cluster of nerve cell bodies, and white matter is a cluster of myelinated processes. That's all. Simply put, white and gray matter are relatively separate, because they are two parts of a single whole called a “nerve cell”.�

    About mental abilities. The question is tricky and debatable. It is generally believed that the larger the brain, the more highly developed the body is. “Highly developed” from the point of view of a person, we measure everything by ourselves, we are still egoists. For us, viruses and bacteria are the bottom, the most primitive, but, unlike the classical theory of evolution, which likes to throw words like “low-organized” and “primitive” in a more progressive understanding of the issue, these organisms, on the contrary, can be recognized as the pinnacle of evolution, as the most adapted to life in almost any conditions.

    So, of course, the larger the brain, the more nerve cells it has, the more connections it has, and even new brain structures and evolutionary know-how can appear. So, the number of cells and the volume of the brain itself do not mean much. The point is always in the details, there is little that is solved by a rough amount.

    First, when talking about brain volume, you need to immediately adjust for body size. It is clear that the cat is much smaller than a person, so the brain will be lighter in grams. If she's not a mutant)

    Secondly, the ratio of the mass of the spinal cord to the brain is important. So, in cats it is 1: 1, in dogs 1: 3, in lower monkeys 1: 16, in humans 1: 50.

    Third, and most importantly, size doesn't guarantee anything. And if, between different animal species in the evolutionary series, you can still say something about mental abilities based on brain mass, then God forbid to measure intelligence by brain mass in humans. There is a classic example that Anatole France had a brain mass of approx. 1 kg, Turgenev – 2 kg, and some patient with idiocy and epilepsy-2.8 kg. So there is no direct connection.

    Much more important is not a quantitative advantage, but a qualitative one. In humans, for example, more than in any other animal, the new cortex prevails over the old, and some areas are very strongly developed or even appear for the first time, such as the centers that provide written and oral speech. The second alarm system, in fact.

    The human cortex is characterized by the highest degree of differentiation and complexity of the columnar organization, especially in its specific departments.In the course of evolution, the number of associative cortical neurons, the degree of branching of dendrites and the number of spines on them, the number and plasticity of synapses increased, and the efficiency of neurotransmitter processes and enzyme systems of the brain increased.

    We are smarter than a cat, not only because we have more gray matter, but because our brain is designed differently, and it functions differently.

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